Tuesday, July 6, 2010

#313 Johnny Grubb

Who is this player
Johnny Grubb, rightfielder, Texas Rangers
Not as heralded as some of his more famous mates in the Texas Rangers outfield, Johnny Grubb was a solid and reliable rightfielder in 1980. The no-nonsense Grubb played all three outfield positions for the Rangers and occasionally appeared as a DH. His top performance of the season most likely came in a 9-1 thrashing of the Blue Jays. Grubb drove in a career-high five runs with a home run and a double.

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Johnny Grubb was a natural righthanded hitter who taught himself to switch hit emulating Mickey Mantle. High school coaches instructed him to continue as a lefthanded batter. He played two years of junior college baseball at Manatee Community College in Bradenton, Florida and was an outfielder on the Junior College World Series all-tournament team in 1968. After two years at Manatee, Grubb transferred to Florida State University, where he hit .303 his junior year and was named honorable mention All-American by The Sporting News in 1970. FSU finished second in the College World Series that year and Grubb was named to the all-tournament team.

Selected by the San Diego Padres in 1971, Johnny was given the opportunity to be the Padres' regular centerfielder in 1973. He responded with a .311 average in 113 games and received minor Rookie of the Year consideration. The following year, he was named to the National League All-Star team with his batting average well over .300. in 1975, he achieved career highs in several offensive categories, including doubles. He hit 36 two-baggers which was a club record at the time and was seventh best in the National League.

Several trips to the disabled list during his career followed Grubb as he was traded to the Cleveland Indians and then Texas Rangers. It has been said that the injuries were a testament to his hustle and desire to win. Known around the league as a great teammate, Johnny developed a reputation as a clutch performer and one of the most dangerous bats in the league in the late innings. With Texas in 1979, he put together the longest hitting streak in the league that year (21 games).

Traded to the Detroit Tigers before the 1983 season, Grubb would help lead the Tigers to a World Championship in 1984. Playing in the postseason for the first time, Grubb had a game-winning double off of Dan Quisenberry to win Game 2 of the 1984 ALCS. In 1986, he had one of his finest seasons. Pressed into daily service because of injuries, Grubb batted .333 with 13 homers and 51 RBI in only 81 games. The last hurrah of his 16-year career came in the 1987 ALCS when he batted .571. Today, Grubb is the head baseball coach at Meadowbrook High School in Virginia.

Why I love this card
I'm sure that the dugout behind Johnny in this picture is likely one of the older stadiums of the era, such as Fenway or Comiskey, but to me it always looked like he was emerging from a cave. During the summer of 1980, one of our roadside stops was to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, so that was possibly an explanation.

Something else....
One of the pitchers that Grubb coached in high school made it to the major leagues, Cla Meredith of the Baltimore Orioles. Additionally, Grubb holds the distinction of being the hitting coach for the Colorado Silver Bullets. The Bullets were an all-female professional baseball team that played across the United States from 1994-1997.

On this date in 1980:
In Cleveland, Ohio, students are just finishing the school year due to a teacher's strike. I can't imagine how ticked off I would be as a kid, having to be in school in July.

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